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Schouviller Dairy is 'all in the family' operation

The Schouviller family includes: (front row), Nick and Adam; (middle row) Lois, Sami, Betty, Matt and Kelly; (back row) Mike, Bobbi, Nicole, Linda and John. Mike and Lois's children are Bobbi, Sami, Betty, Nicholas and Adam, while John and Linda's children are Nicole, Kelly and Matt. Brothers John and Mike Schouviller were honored by the Becker County Soil & Water Conservation District as Conservationists of the Year for 2008.

Though they're not twins, brothers Mike and John Schouviller of rural Callaway have led remarkably parallel lives.

In 1993, they both got married -- and their wives, Linda and Lois, are sisters. That same year, they also started up a dairy operation just a mile down the road from their parents' farm, on property they had purchased together in 1988.

Since then, they have continued to live and work together, though their families do reside in separate houses on the 480-acre farm. Their children -- eight of them altogether -- also share in the chores -- "when they're not in school," John says.

"Our kids get to work and play together," Mike says. His wife, Lois, also helps with the milking, though Linda works at the ClubHouse Hotel in Detroit Lakes during the day.

And their parents, Nick and Betty Schouviller, also have a hand in the operation.

"Dad does a lot of the field work," John says.

Indeed, Schouviller Dairy is truly an "all-in-the-family" operation. It's also an environmentally friendly one: On Dec. 7, the Schouvillers will be honored as Becker County Conservationists of the Year at the annual Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD) convention in St. Paul. The award will be presented by the Becker County SWCD.

Since 2001, the brothers have implemented a series of measures aimed at reducing erosion and managing ag waste on their property -- most recently, constructing two water and sediment control basins on their property, plus two more basins done in cooperation with an adjoining landowner. The Schouvillers received a combination of funding from the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), state cost-share dollars and the Becker SWCD.

According to Jeff Norby, a soils technician with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the purpose of the project was "to correct gully erosion and prevent sediment from entering into the surface water."

But these basins are only the most recent eco-friendly improvements made to the dairy operation.

In 2005, the Schouvillers constructed a compost barn on their property, for the purpose of composting animal waste.

And in August 2001, they began construction of a waste storage pond with funding from the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). As part of their EQIP contract, they also implemented a nutrient management plan -- which helps reduce their fertilizer costs by identifying exactly where and how much manure needs to be applied -- field and farmstead windbreaks and wildlife plantings. In addition, feedlots were abandoned and seeded down, and diversions were constructed.

Though the brothers also farm about 480 acres of corn, barley and alfalfa hay in rotation, it mainly goes to feed their herd of about 300 cattle, including 120 Holstein milking cows as well as heifers, calves and steers (up to 1,400-1,500 pounds).

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454